REF 2021

Our research takes an applied approach, seeking to find solutions to today's most challenging problems

Preparing for REF 2021

  • Every 6-7 years, the quality of research in UK Higher Education Institutions is assessed via the Research Excellence Framework (REF).
  • The REF results inform the allocation of over £1billion/year of government funding and comprise one of the key performance metrics for universities.
  • LSBU is currently preparing its submission to REF 2021: the submission date is 31 March 2021. The submission deadline was extended from the original date of 27 November 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Key to LSBU's REF 2021 strategy are its Research Centres, which underpin its Unit of Assessment (UoA) – discipline-level - REF 2021 submissions. Together with LSBU’s Research Groups, which enable researchers to cohere around emerging research areas and provide research opportunity for all, LSBU’s Research Centres provide a strategically focused and supportive environment for researchers.
  • In the run-up to the REF 2021 submission, LSBU has undertaken a number of mock-REFs to gauge progress on its submission preparations. The most recent (2019/20) mock REF concluded that LSBU is making excellent progress in all three of the REF elements: Outputs; Impact; and, Environment. The Directors of Research, Unit of Assessment leads and the Research Office are working together closely to finalise LSBU’s submission to eight Units of Assessment. We are grateful to the input and support of all staff with our REF preparations.
  • For further information regarding LSBU’s REF 2021 preparations, please contact the REF coordinator, Dr Karl Smith.

LSBU's REF 2021 Code of Practice

The REF Code of Practice describes, for each institution submitting to the REF, the:

  • criteria and processes for identifying which staff have Significant Responsibility for Research (SRR) and hence, are to be submitted to the REF;
  • processes for supporting staff who may have been subject to circumstances that have impeded their ability to produce research outputs for the REF;
  • processes for selecting which research outputs to submit to the REF.

LSBU submitted its REF 2021 Code of Practice for approval in early June 2019. Approval from Research England of LSBU’s REF 2021 Code of Practice was received on 8 November 2019. In October 2020, a number of amendments were made to LSBU’s Code of Practice in order to: 1) take into account changes to the REF timetable in light of COVID-19; 2) update references to named individuals/roles where replacements for roles were enacted due to changes in personnel; and 3) address and eliminate omissions, errors and out-of-date references in the text.

The key changes to LSBU’s REF Code of Practice (CoP) made are as follows:

  • Notice has been given that the Significant Responsibility for Research (SRR) Appeals process ended on 21 September 2020 (previously only a date range was specified – September/October 2020)
  • All references to the original REF submission deadline of 27 November 2020 have been changed to 31 March 2021.
  • Due to logistical challenges, the online REF Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) training session proposed has been offered to key staff only. Accordingly, the text pertaining to it in the CoP has been modified. However, all staff can access the training via this link:
  • A commitment made that an email would be sent to all staff in the Research only pool to inform them of a programme of work to determine their research independence has been revised. This revision was due to concerns over obtaining an accurate list of Research only staff. In its place, Teaching and Research and Research only staff were emailed collectively. In recognition of this, Teaching and Research and Research only staff were informed in the SRR communication disseminated by Directors of Research/Deans that LSBU is committed to ensuring that staff who are not submitted to the REF are fully supported in their work and are not disadvantaged in any way.
  • In order to provide further clarity, the information provided pertaining to the work of the Staff Circumstances Group has been revised. Originally, it was stated that the initial Circumstances call would be conducted in February/March 2020, and that where staff with SRR were appointed after the closure of the initial call, these individuals would also be invited to submit circumstances declarations. The amended CoP provides further clarity and detail: it gives notice that a second call for staff circumstances has been made in September/October 2020 in light of COVID-19 and moreover, explicitly states that staff who joined LSBU after the initial circumstances call closed can register their circumstances. It also states that staff who missed the initial circumstances deadline are welcome to declare their staff circumstances in this second call.
  • The original CoP stated that REF Impact case studies would be short-listed in June/July 2019, with final decisions, where feasible, made in September/October 2019.  COVID-19 and the extension to the REF submission deadline has necessitated a change to the timeline for assessing Impact case studies. The revised text reflects this. It now states that Impact case studies will be short-listed in late 2020. Final decisions on case study selection, where feasible, will be made in December 2020. It is recognised that for some case studies, the extent of the Impact and/or the fulfilment of the underpinning research eligibility criteria may not be clear until 2021.
  • LSBU’s REF 2014 “QR” (Quality-related Research) income has grown since the previous iteration of the Code of Practice was issued. The originally quoted of c. £1.8 million has therefore been revised to £2.0 million.
  • Due to some delays in confirming the SRR status of researchers, against the backdrop of COVID-19, it was necessary to delay the Equality Impact Assessment of LSBU’s prospective staff submission work from June/July 2020 to September/October 2020 and the text of the CoP has been revised accordingly.
  • The reported completion date of the Equality Impact Assessment undertaken of the proposed pool of outputs to be returned in LSBU’s REF 2021 submission, which looks in particular at inequalities in the numbers of outputs assigned to staff members, has been revised from 2020 to early 2021. The change in the REF submission date to March 2021 enabled this equality impact assessment to be delayed to early 2021, which is within the REF 2021 submission timeframe.
  • Due to recent changes, the quoted figures in the CoP of ≥35 Research Groups and 15 Research Centres have been revised to ≥30 Research Groups and 12 Research Centres
  • Annex XV - Confirmation of approval of Code of Practice – in the original CoP was omitted. It has therefore been populated with the correspondence between the Vice Chancellor of LSBU, Prof. Dave Phoenix OBE and Steven Hill, the Director of Research England, concerning the approval of the Code of Practice
  • The Chair of the REF SRR Appeals Panel and moreover, the Chair of the Staff Circumstances Group (SCG) have changed and the text has accordingly been updated. Further, the membership of the SCG has been changed and the text again reflects this.

See LSBU’s approved, amended, REF 2021 (PDF File 2,926 KB).


For further information regarding LSBU's REF 2021 submission, please contact the REF Coordinator: Dr Karl M. Smith

Key REF 2021 dates

The institution submits the Code of Practice to Research England

7 June 2019

Funding bodies notify institutions that their respective code of practice documents meets REF requirements; or requests resubmission of the Code of Practice

16 August 2019

Institution resubmits code of practice to Research England

20 September 2019

Funding bodies notify institutions that the code of practice meets REF requirements; or requests a second resubmission of the code of practice

By 8 November 2019

Institution resubmits code of practice to funding bodies

15 November 2019

Funding body notifies institution whether or not code of practice meets REF requirements

29 November 2019

The REF census date for staff; end of assessment period for research impacts, the research environment and data about research income and research doctoral degrees awarded

31 July 2020

End of publication period (cut-off point for publication of research outputs, and for outputs underpinning impact case studies)

31 December 2020

Deadline for providing further details for outputs pending publication; redacted versions of impact case studies; and corroborating evidence held for impact case studies

29 January 2021

The REF submission deadline

31 March 2021

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